July 31, 2012 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: Miscellaneous
What Are the Components of an Assessment?
By Michael Pruitt
In the psychological thriller Memento, Leonard Shelby (portrayed by Guy Pearce) searches for his wife’s killer by constantly writing notes on Polaroids and tattooing his body. Leonard does this because he has anterograde amnesia and can’t store new memories.
While the assessment process isn’t as intense, it does parallel Leonard’s methods in certain ways. Leonard begins his journey by gathering as much information as he can, documenting it. Good consultants do the same. Leonard then filters the information, siphoning down until he finds the culprit. Good consultants similarly sift through and categorize layers until they arrive at a solution for their clients.
I see the assessment process as a funnel, rather than a task list of steps. This is because the assessments begin broadly, where consultants come in trying to grasp a holistic image of the whole system. As we learn more, we filter the information and narrow the field until we arrive at a proposed solution or recommendation.
There are four tiers in an assessment: organizational context, system context, service visioning and finalization.
- Organization context, the topmost, widest tier, is where we learn what the system and its people look like and how they work together. This involves identifying and mapping out project community personas within the organization.
In system context, the next step, we consolidate the information we gathered in the organization context phase. We identify current services of a system and see where there are gaps or inefficiencies. We also define what the wants and needs are of the system, how it would ideally look and work.
By the time we reach service visioning, we know the system well and we give soft recommendations. We create definitions of what “done” looks like and we sketch out user interfaces. In many assessments, system context and service visioning overlap significantly and are critical path dependencies. They are distinct yet symbiotic phases.
Finalization is the last phase. We present to our clients the deliverable, perhaps a list of our recommendations as well as their benefits and potential risks. We also provide a high-level road map and an inception plan.
An assessment is not effective without a well-conceived procedure. Furthermore, a shortsighted assessment is costly. What steps will you take to make sure the next consultant you bring in will meticulously comb through the intricacies of your organization?
Michael Pruitt chronicles his pursuits as both an Engagement Manager and an avid cyclist, and will talk about the overlap and learnings from both in this blog series. You can contact Michael at MichaelPru@vmc.com.
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